Just received my Integra DHC-80.3 yesterday. Haven't had a chance to install it yet, but will do so today. However, not all of the pieces have arrived yet (XLR cabling and such), but will jury rig it today with RCA intereconnects from Radio Shack
. Anyone read the Stereophile columnist article about using Radio Shack $5 RCA interconnects as compared to some uber stupid expensive RCA interconnects? Iron Horse!
To answer some basic questions... My setup:
Integra DHC-80.3 (obviously)
Parasound Halo A52
Parasound Halo A23 (Bi-amp function only)
Paradigm Studio 100 mains
Paradigm Studio CC-590 center
Paradigm Studio ADP-590 Surrounds
Paradigm Studio Sub 12
Mac mini (iCore 7 setup, August 2011 version), with Pure Music add in to iTunes.
Synology DS411 +II (previously acquired for my UNIX/Mac/PC compute setup - going to try the iTunes/DLNA aspect eventually...)
Probable hardware addition:
Benchmark DAC1 USB (we'll see how the DHC-80.3 does first... the DHC-80.3 does have XLR inputs!)
Some background... I've haven't had a real audio grade system for 20+ years and decided last October to get a "decent" system for HT and 2 channel digital music. Initial Budget: $2500. Kinda blew through that in the first week, realizing Best Buy didn't have the products I was looking. And where are all of the other audio stores?
The speakers came first... I know, a bit backwards. But the sound that came out of these speakers, far better than anything else I had previously heard. The Signature Series were even more jaw dropping, alas, must be reasonable I thought, and exercise some financial restraint, somewhere. Doubling down for the Signatures, well, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. In the same shop, I heard the Magico Q's and I had to just leave. I swore at the owner... $160K for that setup and it takes 20 minutes to "warm up", are you friggin' nuts! OK! $120K tops... and the receptionist.
Oh, to be young again.
I demo'ed the Denon 4311CI for the last couple of weeks and was impressed with the video, well, mostly. Netflix, via AppleTV and via the Denon, on some source material was "grainy", something I never saw before going direct to the TV. The audio processing capabilities were very good, especially with a DVD/BD source (what I wanted). However, the amp inside just wasn't cutting it, IMHO. It spent most of it's time at the 70 - 80% volume level (absolute), just to get a decent volume level of it. Paradigm dealers warned me about burning up tweeters (via clipping with marginal amps) and I was a bit puckered up that I might be doing damage to my 100's and CC-590. At the end of the day, I just didn't think the 4311CI was making the 100's come alive. Live and learn... and pony up $80 to ship it back.
And so, the Integra DHC-80.3 and the Parasound Halo's. I won't bother you with the amp decision process (couldn't justify the Anthems A/P series or more pricier units, even though...), but I did have a bit of a tough time between the 80.3 and the Marantz AVR 7005. The 7005 simply lost out due to the Anchor Bay 2015 video processor and the Audyssey XT. The Denon 4311CI had the Anchor Bay 2015 (see above) and thought it good enough for most material, but I do think the HQV Vida has better fundamentals (read about its genesis with Lockheed, something I know about in my work life; however, how it works in this setup remains to be seen). And DHC-80.3 has the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 processing (+ Pro) and 192K / 32-Bit Burr-Brown DACs. Never learned what the 7005 had for DAC's.
But the DHC-80.3 has its issues... ?clicking? and ?volume control knob? issues. What this about? Is this an Onkyo QA issue? Is this a fundamental design flaw issue? Well, I spoke with an Integra Sales Engineer (operative word is "engineer" as oppose to "marketing") earlier in the year, before the 80.3 series was released for GA. I brought up these issues to him and was told this... "I can tell you we have sold more than a thousand DTR-80.2's and twice as many DHC-80.2's and the failure rate has been below 2%, and of those, 72% of the ones returned have had no problems found on the bench." He wouldn't give the exact numbers but when he and I talked... from what I could gather, out of 22 DTR-80.2 returned units this year, he said 15 of them came in and no fault was found after they tested them on the bench. He also said... "The only real issues I have seen on AV gear in general is the HDMI handshake process... which I feel by design is poor no matter what piece of gear we are speaking about." The HDMI bus, as it pertains to devices interacting, can be a problem. And look first to your HDMI cabling if you are having problems. There aren't any "real" physical Quality standards in the HDMI cabling industry. So buy the best HDMI cable you can from a reputable manufacturer and those expensive HDMI cables, well, aren't really any better per se.
So, I bought Blue Jean HDMI cables and have "borrowed" three Kimber Kable HD29 cables from my Integra dealer, you know, gotta demo it first. Honestly, I don't think I will see/experience any difference as I think the Blue Jean HDMI cables I have are very good. We'll see, and hear, soon enough.
About this "clicking" noise... I am not sure what every one is talking about, but the Denon had clicking too. Not midstream, during any playback, but when changing anything with regards to the audio setup. I was changing the audio setup midstream during music and BD playback and there was this definite "loud, clicking" noise. I am not sure if this is the same as to what Integra owners are talking about, but I always expected this to happen - its the nature of the beast. I guess I will find out shortly what this "clicking" noise is all about.
Well, time to get cabling. I'll do my best to inform this thread of my experiences and issues. AND I will make an effort to keep my "chattiness" to a minimum.
Oh, one last thing... Another reason I went with the Integra DHC-80.3 instead of the Marantz AV 7005 was cost. I cannot return the Integra as I could with the Marantz, and so this was/is a real risk to me. I only paid a couple of hundred bucks more for the Integra and my dealer swears he'll nail Integra against the wall, if need be, should undesireable issues arise.
I hope the Integra will prove to be a sound purchase, 'cause I ain't going the Anthem D2 route! I'd have to "sell" my current receptionist to make that happen.